Monday 10 March 2014

No evidence to justify discrimination on the grounds of age in the allocation of Scottish social housing

Scottish Housing News has reported today that the Chartered Institute of Housing, SFHA, COSLA, and ALACHO and the Glasgow and West of Scotland Forum of Housing Associations have rejected claims that allowing social landlords to allocate housing based on age, will not lead to unfair discrimination in the allocation of social housing in Scotland for certain age groups.

The trade bodies for social landlords and local authoritities have rejected claims made by Govan Law Centre, Shelter Scotland, and a number of other national homeless and children charities, that removing the current restriction against taking age into account in the allocation of social housing (in section 20(2) of the Housing (Scotland) Act 1987) would lead to young people being unfairly discriminated against in the allocation of social housing.

In dismissing the claims made by Scottish charities who represent the interests of tenants, David Bookbinder of the Chartered Institute of Housing in Scotland was reported to have said the concerns "were not backed up by evidence" and claimed "this measure will help deal with very specific situations and won’t in any way lead to social landlords ignoring their important duties under the Equality Act 2010. The Bill actually reinforces the requirement for landlords not to unfairly discriminate on the grounds of age".

Govan Law Centre's view is clear. We believe: "There is no independent evidence that removing the ban on taking age into consideration in allocating social housing would serve any useful purpose. Moreover, the Scottish Government did not consult on this proposal, and it appears to have by-passed the normal democratic route for open scrunity in the development of public policy in Scotland".

"We can understand why trade bodies representing social landlords are backing the right of their members to be able to refuse to allocate social housing to a tenant based on age, but unlike them we don't represent the interests of landlords; we only represent the best interests of tenants of all ages. Allowing discrimination based on age is a regressive and unnecessary step in Scottish housing law".

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